Groundswell 2022

There are probably as many different ways of farming as there are farmers. This certainly applies to farmers who are
trying to work out how to farm in a regenerative manner. I’m sure that you are all familiar with the five principles of
regenerative agriculture which give us a direction to work with nature rather than against her. Our cousins in America have added a sixth principle, context, to these five which helps us focus on the particular factors that affect our own farm whatever they may be, like family set-up, local markets for produce, soil types, local weather patterns and the myriad peculiarities that affect our decision making.

This year’s Groundswell Show, which we are currently organising, will, we hope, feed delegates with ideas to implement techniques that enable us all to find ways of growing abundant crops with minimal inputs, within our contexts. We have been overwhelmed with suggestions for talks from a large array of different quarters, most of which sound fascinating. Unfortunately we haven’t got space or time to fit them all in, but we hope that the ones that we let through will resonate and stimulate. More details on these will become available nearer the time.

Meanwhile we have some keynote speakers flying in from abroad, after a couple of years of no-one flying anywhere. I’m particularly excited to welcome Dwayne Beck back to the UK. I’ve been asking him to come every year that we’ve put a show on, but he’s always been too busy with his own annual event at Dakota Lakes Research Farm in South Dakota. Dakota Lakes is a farmer owned operation which studies ways of making farming more resilient economically and ecologically and, in the many years with Dwayne at the helm, both he and the farm have become leading lights in the no-till world. You might think that there is not much we can learn from someone and somewhere so different to the UK, but if you thought that: you’d be wrong! Jill Clapperton came to the first Groundswell Show we put on and we’re thrilled to have her back this year. Like Dwayne, she’s a titan of the world of soil and she explains what’s going on under our feet beautifully clearly. We have also lined up various speakers who can explode the myths that suggest grazing animals are inevitably disastrous for global warming, like Diana Rodgers and Seth Itzkhan.

Greg Judy is back to tell us how he manages his grazing animals, he will also be joining us for the traditional moving the mob event and providing us with on hand advice. I’m afraid, yet again, it is going to be really hard to choose which talks to go to and which to watch on the computer later, but just tell yourself it’s character building. Meanwhile we have the direct drilling demos in a slightly rejigged demo field, with machines from thirteen drill-makers all drilling into an established cover crop/weed mixture. There is also going to be an inter-row hoe or two demoing in a crop of wheat. We have lined up various different composting techniques in the compost zone, which could easily engross me all day. There’ll also be another dung-beetle safari, as last year’s one was ridiculously popular.

There are lots of interesting exhibitors taking stands, many of them will be giving their own talks and demos, there won’t be any dull moments. The main attraction is, of course, all you lot, some of the country’s most innovative and delightful farmers all gathered in one place for a couple of days…it’s incredibly reassuring being surrounded by such a peer group, old and new friends chatting away and egging each other on. There’s nothing quite like hearing other people’s stories to convince yourself that the future need not be quite as dark as the present seems to be.